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Can you help me? ISO small town, great food, within a couple hours of Paris for 2-3 day visit.

Hello Chowhounders,
Will be going to Paris this August. Want to spend 2-3 days in a smaller town with great food, not too far away. Can you help me with any ideas? I would appreciate your input. Thanks. Randy

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  1. Reims for Champagne and food.
    Lyon -- the old saying goes that if Paris is the heart of France, Lyon is her stomach -- wine, food, Unesco heritage, Roman ruins, architecture...

    Not suggesting the south, because August will mean everything is a zoo (peak tourist season)

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      Lyon sounds like a great idea. i think it's 2 hrs by train...Thanks!

    2. Catch the train to Roanne (2.5 hrs), have a meal at Troisgros.

      13 Replies
      1. re: jeremyholmes

        AHA! but Roanne is a short local train ride from Lyon!

        Not sure how many places will be closed for "vacances," but Lyon is definitely a great place to spend time. So much to see and do, and all within walking distance of your hotel if you stay in the Centre Ville.

        Reims is a great place as well, with so many bubbles one can't begin to count. And two of the finest restaurants in France... Assiette Champenoise and Les Crayeres.

        1. re: ChefJune

          Lyon seems pretty large. Still charming? Want the few days away from Paris to be a slower pace.

          1. re: MirandazFood

            For 2, 3 days, why not the nearby Normandy coast, like Trouville.
            Good seafood eateries, beautiful coast. And you can take a bus to nearby Honfleur with even better seafood. All in all, a beautiful stretch of the coast.

            1. re: Parigi

              When we spent July in Paris, this was a long weekend trip for us. It was fabulous. We rented a car so that we could explore a bit. I look forward to a repeat.

              1. re: Parigi

                We like a bigger town, and without a Car would 3 days in Trouville be boring.
                Any great Restaurants within a reasonable Taxi ride?
                We spent a week in Dijon last Sept. and love Lyon were never bored in either and had some excellent Food.
                We need to fit in a 3 day trip because we are departing Brussels, and need to be in Paris 3 days later.
                Have spent a week in both Lille, and Reims.
                Enjoyed both, but looking for something new close to Paris

                1. re: erly

                  3 days in Trouville and nowhere else would indeed be boring. But Trouville can be a base, from which you go visit Honfleur one day and Rouen another day.
                  Another good base, with many interesting nearby towns and good food, is Arles. And you don't need a car. 2.5 hour train from Paris to Avignon, then short bus to Arles.
                  Or Bordeaux.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    spent a week last year eating drinking, and loving Bordeaux,
                    Also have been to Avignon many times, but I really don't want to be off and on Trains in a short 3 day visit.
                    Looking more for a walkable town with great food and Museums.
                    Might just go back to Reims if there are no other suggestions.

                    1. re: erly

                      erly, have you been to Lyon? It's just 2 hours from Paris on the TGV, and more things to see and do within walking distance of the Presque'Isle than you could possibly do in 3 days. Great food, and wonderful museums. Not to mention the Traboules and the Roman Ruins.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Hi Chef June
                        We have discussed our experiences in Lyon with you on this Board
                        Love Lyon.
                        The most walkable large City in France.
                        and the food!!!!
                        We usually stay a week when we go there.
                        But we are Seniors really not wanting a long distance for three days, just something close to Paris with good Food, of course.

                        1. re: erly

                          Tours, great interesting medium sized city, really fantastic food and... wine!! 55 minutes from Paris by TGV.


              2. re: MirandazFood

                Lyon itself is very charming. Some of the suburbs/towns nearby may be a little "gritty," but Lyon has the Old Town, with its traboules and Roman ruins along with spectacular museums, restaurants, shopping.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  I agree. Thought is is a big city, when you get into the area between the two rivers and up into the Old Town, it is quite nice and laid back.

            2. Do you have a car? Makes a huge difference where you can go.
              Also, many restaurants are closed in August. There is no rule on which ones will be closed and which ones will be open. To find out, you have to find the info on their website or call them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Parigi

                Would like to take train to cut off some travel time.

              2. The historic town of Rouen is easy to access and has a plethora of restaurants from La Couronne of Julia Child fame to Gill and many fine, lesser lights. Famous for the cathedral immortalized by Monet and also the roasting of Joan of Arc.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Laidback

                  I'm laughing. You're talking about restaurants, then the roasting of Joan of Arc. LOL

                2. Great ideas, so far. Or, take the train to Dijon. We stayed in this apartment which is 50 yards from the central square and its restaurants, 10 minutes from the Halles plus its surrounding restaurants, including DZ's Envies. Excellent kitchen, dining space and private outdoor dining area. Free international phone calls plus a Mac. Sweet host. http://www.luxuryflatindijon.fr/

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: mangeur

                      Sounds nice. We're looking at Dijon too. If it's good enough for MFK Fisher...

                    2. Chenonceaux in the Loire Valley has the Bon Laboureur; we stayed at the hotel and loved the food at the restaurant. Tours (St Pierre des Corps) is one hour from Paris by TGV. And the chateaux are impressive too.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ardithl

                        I too was thinking that the Loire, and specifically Chenonceaux, as a great getaway for 2-3 days. It's an easy drive, plenty of good food and scenery. We actually stayed on the south bank of the Cher, a few km from Chenonceaux, at a B&B called Le Moulin de Pont, in St. Georges Sur Cher. Delicious breakfasts Also a good a table d'hote for dinner of bourgeois-regional fare, which makes a nice counterpoint to Bon Laboureur.

                        1. re: masha

                          Yes, the answer depends on the definition of "smaller town." I liked Lyon very much -- great markets, fun to explore Vieux Lyon -- but to me it's not a small town (although the Presqu'ile area, Vieux Lyon and Les Halles are all within easy walking distance).

                          Chenonceaux -- and many other towns we visited in the Loire -- are what I consider a small town. We made the mistake of not dining at the Bon Laboureur's restaurant until our last night at the hotel. I wish we'd eaten more meals there, it was that good! Sometimes everything adds up to make a memorable experience, and the Loire in general, and Bon Laboureur in particular, did that for me.

                      2. I would take a train to Tours and rent a car there, stay in Chenonceaux. I would stay at La Roseraie (very charming and priced right) and possibly have a meal there, but definitely have dinner at Bon Laboreur. There are a couple of other good restaurants in town too. There is so much to see in the Loire valley, and lots of great food.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: rrems

                          Hmmm. Lots of notes about Chenonceaux/Loire Valley. Will look into that. Thank you to all of you for sharing your ideas with me!!! I appreciate it. xox

                          1. re: MirandazFood

                            Unless you stay in Tours, you will need a car to see (and eat) the Loire Valley in an expeditious fashion. If you do that, don't miss Amboise, (small and quaint) check out the thread about it running now.

                            BTW, I don't think Lyon qualifies as a "small town" . One of the largest cities in France! Lol.

                            1. re: menton1

                              unfortunately, the quaint in Amboise has largely been replaced by "tourist crap" -- the buildings are still quaint, but the stuff in them has gone downhill hard and fast.

                              It's not a total waste -- it's still a good "halfway" town -- there's groceries, laundromats, and post office all within a couple of blocks, but the old girl ain't what she used to be.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I disagree about Amboise-- sure, the Touraine is full of tourists, lots of French ones as well-- but it;s quite a pleasant place, lots of less-touristy restaurants and shops, (Don;t miss Clos-Luce). Very pretty, very charming, right on the Loire. L;Epicerie is a wonderful local restaurant, in the shadow of the medieval Castle.

                        2. Lyon is very de-populated in August, especially at weekends.. the lure of the Med is just too much

                          Dijon gets my vote... and just an hour and a half from Paris by train... and then Beaune is just 20 minutes by train from Dijon... so no need for a rental car

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Parnassien

                            WEll, if a city of 500K people can "depopulate", it's still a pretty BIG place! Dijon is smaller, only 200K people.

                            As far as Beaune, someone above mentioned Amboise as being "touristy". Wait till they see Beaune!

                          2. We went to Benouville (easy drive to Omaha Beach if you are interested in seeing that) earlier this year and stayed in a hotel called La Glycine. They have a restaurant there that was excellent, but we were there in January so most of the other shops in town were closed for winter so I can't comment on those. We had a great meal in Caen at Restaurant l'Insolite -- recommend reservations. Lots of other food options in Caen as well.

                            We also stopped in Honfleur, great little port town with lots of food and shops, as well as some good lodging options.

                            Safe travels!

                            1. Smaller town, great food? My vote goes to Bordeaux, Roanne, and Nice.

                              1. HI there! Are MirandezFood and erly one and the same couple - sounds like it! If you are, you have already been to Bordeaux (great isn't it?) and Rheims (interesting, if less of a wow!) Don't go back - try something different. If you don't want to hire a car (Menton 1 is right - to do the Loire justice, you need that or a bicycle), I'd recommend Dijon. A short train journey, great restaurants, good churches and museums, in wine area, mustard and cassis to buy, and walkable. Also known for being a more liberal, laid-back town, in contrast to Tours which is relentlessly bourgeois. If a longer train journey (but direct) is no problem, you could opt for Nice. A world apart from Paris - with all the above options, as well as the smells, sights and people of the south.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                  I think I confused everyone sorry, but my question was the same, and I noted that Mirandaz would already be in France so I wouldn't be hijacking her question.
                                  Thanks all for your suggestions..

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      the post above mine (Piggyinthemiddle) thought that the original poster was me, with a different name.
                                      So just explained.

                                      1. re: erly

                                        Strasbourg and/or Colmar get my vote--small, beautiful, terrific food.